In a country of weather extremes it’s no wonder that record-breaking numbers of Australian households have installed air conditioners in the past decade. It’s a trend that surveys suggest will only continue in the decade ahead. For air conditioning vendors the surge in demand is driving revenue and company growth. As with any industry however, successfully capitalising on this boom requires tight business management, efficient processes and a solid underlying infrastructure. So what does a company do when its 30-year old telephone system is suddenly being asked to deal with a rapidly growing number of calls?
For Fujitsu General (Aust.) Pty Limited, one of Australia’s leading providers of air conditioning units, the solution was to replace its ageing technology with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system and to install a new call centre application that would smooth the flow of incoming communications and enhance customer service.
An office move means opportunity
It was in late 2008 when planning for an upcoming head office move that Fujitsu General’s management realised it had the ideal opportunity to replace its decades-old telephone system. After considering the options the company decided to move to a VoIP system due to its potential call cost savings, greater configuration flexibility and ability to almost endlessly expand to match business growth.
Given the VoIP system would need to manage the national call centre and would be relied on for communications in Fujitsu General offices Australia-wide, the company decided to seek a technology partner to provide the necessary expertise and guidance for this critical project. Four IT services companies were approached and asked for their recommendations and quotations. According to Matthew Barnes, IT Manager, Fujitsu General, “We were really seeking advice on what we could and couldn’t do with VoIP. “
One of the organisations approached was United Business Solutions (UBS), an IT services and solutions company focused on the corporate and government enterprise market. UBS recommended a solution comprising the VoIP infrastructure and an Interactive Intelligence contact centre management software platform.
“UBS were the last people to come in and present. They were very easy to get along with. The biggest appeal with their presentation was the fact that they included a software-driven phone system. The software would live on a Windows-based server with connections in each area for local and outgoing calls. It meant we didn’t have to have hardware out at every Fujitsu General site,” Barnes explains. It was a perceptive recommendation, minimising the hardware investment and ongoing maintenance that would be required of Fujitsu General’s IT team.
“Most of the other vendors wanted us to put servers in each location which only meant there would be more to manage,” Barnes adds.
The importance of planning
When the decision to proceed with UBS was made, there were still a couple of months to go before the actual physical office move. Barnes says, “This gave us nearly three months to prepare and get it right. UBS sat down with managers from all our different departments to work out their work and call flows.”
Mapping how each manager wanted the phone system to flow took almost one and a half months and it gave UBS the information essential to successfully configure the contact centre.
“UBS built it all in their lab then on the weekend we moved in, they put the system in, tested it and away we went. From the time we physically moved into the new office the phone system was fully bedded in within a week. There was no disruption to the business at all,” Barnes says.
Presence, cost savings and reporting
Staff reaction to the new phone system and its modern functionality has been very positive. “The software on our PCs means that we can now see on our screens who’s available and who’s not in the office. It’s much better than before when you might leave a message for someone to call you back and not know that they were on holidays for the next week!” Barnes smiles.
Within the call centre the Interactive Intelligence software is making life much easier. In-depth reporting is enabling management and staff to see how many calls are being received each day and to spot trends. For example, demand for air conditioning products tends to peak twice a year – in mid-summer and again in winter. This places additional strain on the contact centre but with the help of the reports, management can recognise changes in call patterns and more quickly determine optimal staffing levels.
Phone call costs are also expected to reduce due to VoIP savings on interstate calls and calls between offices.
Barnes notes that the UBS design for the VoIP system has also resulted in a much easier to administer and maintain phone system, enabling the IT department to turn its attention to other, more pressing requirements. “UBS designed the call flow for us and it still gets tweaked occasionally when we work out new and better ways of doing things. It’s a system that will continue to evolve,” he says.
“Right from the start UBS was always asking us how we felt about things and seeking our reactions to their recommendations. They have really exceeded all our expectations. They provide a great service and they know the technology. It’s a very good partnership,” Barnes concludes.